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Ask Ellie: Offer friend support but don't get in middle of troubled couple

Stay supportive of your girlfriend. She needs to know that you’re available to her, to discuss her situation or just for having friend time.

Dear Ellie: I have two high-school best friends who started dating each other in their 30s. I was so happy for them until I learned through the woman’s family member that the guy was physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually abusive towards her.

My female friend had tried to hide the bruises and was hesitant to tell me about it, but eventually she shared some of their issues.

They broke up after he was physical towards her while he was drunk. Her relative called the police. Several months later, the two began dating again.

I haven’t spoken to my guy friend although the woman and I still talk. He tried reaching out to me after they got back together, but I ignored his text.

From our past friendship, I know how manipulative he can be. Now, it’s three years since they resumed dating. They just had a baby.

I want to be supportive of my female friend but don’t know if I trust the situation. She told me that he drinks less but we don’t talk about her relationship, so I don’t know how or if it’s evolved.

Is it okay for me to accept him in her life again and be on good terms with both, now that they have a child together? Or should I continue to keep my distance?

Complicated Friendship

There’s a lot that hasn’t been told to you, making it important that neither you nor I assume we know more.

Is the husband’s “drinking less” enough to keep her safe? Has he sought any therapy/rehab help to prevent resorting to abuse again? Unknown.

Stay supportive of your girlfriend. She needs to know that you’re available to her, to discuss her situation or just for having girlfriend time. She’s shown that she wants you to respect her boundaries.

Currently, her baby is her priority — it’s a demanding time that also often affects a couple’s relationship.

Stress can be frequent from sleep-disturbed nights, an infant’s prolonged crying, differences of opinion on how to handle these things.

Let your friend vent about it and watch for any signs that she’s more troubled.

New mothers can feel overwhelmed and develop postpartum depression during this period. A husband with a history of physical abuse may react badly to any moods she might have.

If you suspect she’s in trouble, say so.

Don’t chat with her husband until you’re sure that the couple are okay together, based on her seeming confident about their relationship.

Reader’s commentary regarding the woman who lost her driver’s licence (Jan. 20):

“It happened to me.

“A severe flu dehydrated me. My husband took me to the emergency department where I had a seizure. I received official notice that I lost my licence.

“A neurologist filled out the form after three months, but it took six months before my licence was returned. This happened many years ago and I’m fine.

“When my father lost his licence, my sisters and I made a schedule for inviting our parents for dinner every third week (picked up by a grandchild), taking our mother shopping and scheduling appointments when one of us could drive them.

“After my father died, my mother was in a nursing home. A family member visited her every day. Fortunately, there were nine grandchildren.

“My children learned by example. During COVID they’ve been picking up items for me or driving me to appointments.”

Reader 2: “The doctor involved should have told the mother and her family that her license was being suspended for health-related reasons, and possibly returned later.

“Here’s a link to additional information, including how a patient can obtain a copy of any medical report submitted to the ministry and the appeal process:

Ellie: Letter-writers and the many readers to this column reside not only across all of Canada’s provinces but many also live in the United States, Britain, France or elsewhere, wherever there’s online communication.

So, search for your own location’s drivers’ licence rules regarding health-based restrictions.

Ellie’s tip of the day

There’s a responsibility to offer support and caring when a serious issue affects a long-time friend. But if a couple is involved, stay out of the middle.

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